Summer, for kids, is a carefree time of going to the pool, hanging out at home, or kicking back at summer camp. As parents, it’s easy to slack off on so many things in the summer, especially hard things like the inner work of character development. But with school starting soon, it’s time to think about our kids’ back-to-school essentials, and one of the most important is their character.
Research has shown that kids who exhibit positive character traits such as love, empathy, and self-control, become adults who are happier, healthier, and more successful in their relationships and work. In almost every way, kids who exhibit strong moral character become healthier, happier adults. And we all want that, don’t we?
Mom and Dad, building strong moral characteristics in your child is your responsibility as a parent—not just for your child’s benefit, but also for your community and for the society. When we look at the bigger picture, we realize that our world will benefit from the strong moral character we build in our children today. Schools can help encourage and build upon what we’re already doing as parents, but it has to start at home.
Here are five essential body parts that must be strengthened in order for our kids to develop strong character:
1. Hands, to serve others
Does your child regularly open doors for others? Can he or she carry a cafeteria tray for a child on crutches or in a wheelchair? Could they help their teacher by emptying a trash can? Help your child develop a sense of active service by using their hands to help others.
2. Eyes, to see others
There are many kids in school who are lonely, struggling, or, outcast. Not to mention those who are hurting because of a difficult situation at home. Encourage your child to open their eyes to those kids who often go unseen.
3. Feet, to walk alongside others
Those kids who are struggling need to be seen, but they also need someone to come alongside to care for and protect them. It isn’t easy, but spending time on the playground or in gym class could make a huge difference to the hurting child.
4. Mouth, to speak kindness
Those junior high years can be really tough, especially on girls, so words of kindness are especially necessary. Kindness is a character trait that can benefit not just the recipient, but also the giver, making him or her into a person others are attracted to.
5. Heart, to love others
All of these character traits—serving, seeing, walking alongside, speaking words of kindness—come from hearts of love. How do our children develop a loving heart? Through God, who loved us first.
Here’s what the Bible has to say about character development:
Colossians 3:12, 14
"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience... And above all, these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."
I believe all parents want their kids to live in harmony with those around them, especially their classmates and friends. The Bible tells us that the best way to do that is to “put on love” that comes from God.
Parents, do your child a favor this school year by helping them develop those parts of their body that can do good to others: Hands to serve. Eyes to see. Feet to walk alongside. Mouths to speak kindness. And hearts to love. These character traits will benefit your child throughout their life.